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4 Reasons to Get a Virtual Phone Number for Your Business

Entrepreneurs should leverage every possible tool in order to get their new business up and running in the best way possible. In today’s business environment, telephone communication is vital to the success of a business. Potential clients will typically call a business with inquiries, to sign up for a service, or to place a large order. In addition, existing customers prefer to be able to reach out to a business with their concerns.

 

young businessman cellphone

With the rise of e-commerce, businesses have started to originate from all over the world. Companies based in the United States are able to transact with customers in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Australia, etc. thanks to the internet. However, increased trade across countries boundaries created some communication issues.

In the past, it was expensive and difficult for a customer in one country to call a business in a different foreign country. First, international calling charges from one country to another can be expensive, depending on the country. Second, the process of dialing an international number can be difficult. Have you ever seen a Hong Kong phone number? It begins with +852, followed by a string of digits.

International calling costs coupled with unfamiliar phone numbers can discourage a customer from reaching out to a business. A missed opportunity can mean less revenue for a business. Don’t miss out on potential business because your phone lines are inaccessible to customers in a remote location.

To solve this issue, virtual phone numbers enable businesses to source customers from any country they desire, no matter where the business is headquartered. In fact, some businesses that use virtual phone numbers have reported greater than 50% increases in call volume. Here are some valuable benefits that a company can realize with a virtual phone number.

  1. Become more accessible

Virtual phone numbers are convenient and free to dial from their corresponding country. In other words, it costs nothing for somebody in the United States to dial a US 1-800 number. When a business advertises a toll free number, customers know that they can access that business over the phone with relative ease.

A business that is accessible to potential clients will do better than its inaccessible counterpart.

  1. Improve customer service

Customers don’t want to pay money to call any business. That much is simple. If a customer has questions or concerns, and they can’t contact a business, they will not be satisfied. They might develop an unfavorable opinion of the business, or worse, move to a competitor.

It is important for businesses to provide great customer service. Also, a negative review can be pretty damaging.

  1. Project a professional image

Consider any successful multinational corporation – they all use local and toll free virtual numbers. Toll free numbers establish an air of professionalism with clients, while local phone numbers allow customers to perceive the business as a local and familiar operation. Prominent businesses use virtual phone numbers, and so should you.

In addition, a one-person operation can really benefit from a virtual phone number. Instead of relying on his or her personal cell phone to take calls, the entrepreneur can advertise a toll free business phone number. Virtual phone numbers also include a suite of advanced features to help scale a business.

  1. Run your business from the cloud

‘Virtual’ phone numbers are just like they sound – virtual. This means that they aren’t tied down to any phone line. Rather, they can be managed from an online control panel. Entrepreneurs are able to run their businesses no matter where they are in the world.

Bottom Line

Businesses these days are able to transact with customers from all over the globe. For a business with customers in foreign countries, it is important to provide a free and convenient point of contact. Virtual phone numbers are free and easy to dial and a toll free number can have a tremendous impact on sales and a company’s bottom line. Smart businesses around the world are getting virtual phone numbers and reaping the benefits.

Do you have experience using virtual phone numbers for your business? We would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

 

The Difference Between 800, 844, 855, 866, 877 and 888 Numbers

What is an 800 number? How can owning a toll free number help my business? If you own a web business, you have probably asked yourself these questions before. Maybe you have already done a Google search about toll free numbers.

If you already searched the web for information, you probably realized that the benefits of owning a toll free number are pretty obvious. For those who are unfamiliar, we will explain.

For one, callers can reach a toll free number without being charged for the call. Rather, the toll free subscriber, or the owner of the toll free number, pays for the call. This presents a major benefit because customers are 40% more likely to call a business if the phone call is free.

Owning a toll free number also just makes your business appear more professional. Imagine a business that advertises a professional and corporate 800 number, and then compare it to a business that uses the owner’s cell phone. The company with the toll free number is probably more likely to get your business. Simply put, owning a toll free number is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your brand.

What is the difference between the 3-digit codes?

A toll free number will begin with one of the following three-digit codes: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855 or 844. The six formats are essentially the same, aside from a slightly different appearance. They all cost the same.

One simple explanation compares the different toll free codes to website domains. The company says that 800 is essentially .com, 888 is .net, and 866 and 877 are like .info and .biz. Each number is still a toll free phone number – it’s simply a matter of preference when deciding which three-digit code to buy.

Why is there more than one code?

Businesses have been using 800 numbers for almost 50 years. The 1-800 numbers first originated in 1967 and were used primarily by hotels and rental car agencies.

Hotels and rental car agencies both take reservations from across the country. They also used to do a lot of business over the phone, before the internet was invented. It was important that customers could reach these businesses for free.

However, the market for 800 numbers became saturated as more and more businesses starting using toll free numbers. There was eventually a need for more prefixes.

To satisfy the demand, 888 numbers were created in 1996. 877 numbers were created in 1998 and 866 numbers in 1999. In 2010, 855 numbers debuted and most recently, the 844 number was created.

Which prefix should I choose?

The prefix that you choose depends somewhat on your advertising strategy. 800 numbers are more popular on common advertising media like TV, placards and radio. Business analysts consider traditional 800 numbers to be a sound decision. However, if the 800 number that you would like is taken, the decision to buy 888, 866, 855, etc. will not make a big difference.

Resp-Orgs and the FCC

Toll free numbers are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis by entities known as “Responsible Organizations,” according to the FCC. The FCC regulates the way toll free numbers can be used or obtained. The biggest advantage for consumers is portability – this means that a toll free user can “port” his number to a new provider when he changes providers.

Portability becomes especially useful when you have owned an 800 number for a long time. It eliminates the need to advertise a new number to clients. In addition, you might have a vanity phone number that is perfect for your business. You will be able to keep your toll free number – whether it is 800, 888, 866, etc.

Toll Free Warehousing

The FCC’s rules prohibit toll free service providers from warehousing, or hoarding, toll free numbers. This means that a provider cannot legally reserve a number without having a subscriber in place. The FCC regulates this activity to ensure that a fair supply of toll free numbers is available.

The History of Toll Free Numbers

Many successful businesses today subscribe to a toll-free number service. A toll free number allows callers to reach an individual or business without needing to pay for the call. Businesses will often advertise their toll free numbers as a free way of calling, because the toll free subscriber pays for the call.

Before the existence of toll free numbers, the only way to call long-distance for “free” was to place a collect call. Some people still place collect calls from a payphone or a prison phone, but collect calling is now almost extinct.

Manual toll-free systems

Collect calling was the first real means of reverse charging phone calls. In a collect call, the calling party would place a call to the operator (press ‘0’) and ask the operator to reverse charge the call. Next, the operator would manually dial the other party, provide the caller’s name, and ask if the called party accepted the call and the call’s fee.

It was still impossible to call another country at this time!

Many telephone companies provided this manual version of free calling. However, the process of reverse charging thousands of phone calls was taxing on the phone company’s’ staff.

InWATS

AT&T rolled out a new service called InWATS as an alternative to operator-assisted collect calling in 1966. InWATS was primitive, lacking the complex routing features provided by modern toll-free services and collecting no call detail records.

800 numbers were little more than a novelty. Some companies owned toll free numbers, but AT&T had a monopoly and charged a premium for the service. Customers were required to sign up for a fixed-rate bulk service that required special trunks. The service was suited to large volume users.

It wasn’t until competitors entered the game that toll free numbers for business became commonplace.

End of a monopoly

A federal judge ordered the monopoly formerly known as “Ma Bell” to split into over 12 different regional companies in 1984. Competition caused rates to drop, and 800 numbers became more affordable than ever.

Most businesses owned 800 numbers. So many numbers were in use that area codes were born.

Modern direct-dial systems

After the transition from a manual switching system to a computerized system in 1966, toll free calls could be routed based on instructions found in central databased. 800 calls could be directed anywhere.

Vanity numbers came into existence shortly after the dissolution of Ma Bell. Vanity phone numbers allowed users to choose their own phone number. Clever vanity numbers were created like 1-800-BUY-BEER.

Then a law passed that guaranteed number portability in 1994. This law ensured that a company could keep its vanity number or toll free number when changing providers.

800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844, 8-X-X?

The demand for toll free numbers skyrocketed in the 1990s, exceeding the supply of 800 numbers. To satisfy the market, 888 numbers were created in 1996. 877 and 866 numbers became available in 1998 and 1999. 855 debuted in 2010.

There is such a vast market for toll free numbers that new toll free prefixes have been created. Surely, the demand for the six prefixes will one day outpace the supply and a new prefix will be available as a toll free number.

Toll free numbers today

While the internet and email have drastically altered business communication, toll-free numbers for business are still very effective. A toll free number enables a business to project a professional image. In addition, toll free numbers allow customers to call the business for free.

Collect calling gave way to toll free services and long-distance communication was altered forever.

International Call Forwarding Explained

What is international call forwarding?

Have you ever dialed an 800 number before? Most people have dialed 800 numbers at some point – to make a product inquiry, book a hotel room, etc. Many businesses today offer a toll free number as a point of contact to allow callers to contact the business for free.

The businesses that offer you a free point of contact, in the form of an 800 number, utilize call forwarding. International call forwarding is a telephone service that redirects a call from one phone number (the 800 number) to another destination phone number. The destination number is typically a call center or company headquarters, but can also be a home phone, mobile phone, etc.

International call forwarding can be used in a number of ways to improve a business’ system of communications. The uses and benefits will be covered later, but first let’s break down how a call forwarding service actually works.

How does call forwarding work?

When a business buys a toll free number from Global Call Forwarding, they select a new phone number and a destination phone number. Calls placed to the ‘new’ number get forwarded to your destination number. The destination phone can be located anywhere in the world.

For example, a business in the United States will buy a US toll free number so that customers can contact them easier. Customers will call the new US 800 number, and the call will be forwarded to the existing business line – the destination phone number.

To explain this example further, calls placed to your US 800 numbers connect automatically to a local public switched telephone network (PSTN). Global Call Forwarding’s network then forwards calls, via your local carrier, to your destination phone number. The destination phone number will ring and customers can connect with the business.

International call forwarding is primarily designed for businesses to establish a virtual presence in any country. But there are many more advantages and additional reasons to use international call forwarding.

Reasons to use international call forwarding

Your competitors probably already use call forwarding to their advantage. Most successful companies advertise a toll free number so that business contacts can speak with a representative at no cost to the caller.

Businesses that use international call forwarding have many valuable advantages. The most significant advantage is increased expansion capabilities – a business with call forwarding can attract customers from any country. A second advantage is reliability of the business’ phone systems. International call forwarding enables users to receive calls anywhere and at any time of day. A third advantage of call forwarding is eliminating roaming charges.

Call forwarding allows businesses to establish a local point of contact in a foreign country. An important initial step when expanding a business is entering new marketplaces. After targeting a country with sales potential, use international call forwarding to answer calls from customers in the target country.

In addition to helping your business grow, a call forwarding service can make the business more reliable because of advanced call forwarding. Call forwarding services offer a variety of settings to ensure that your business is always available. For example, call forwarding with sequential ring will send calls down a sequential list of phone numbers when the first call fails. International call forwarding can make a business more accessible and reliable with advanced call forwarding features.

How to set up call forwarding

International call forwarding is very easy to set up and the service can be activated in a matter of seconds. The easiest way to set up call forwarding is to buy a local or toll free number from Global Call Forwarding.

On the “View rates” page, users can select a local or toll free number from one of many countries. After choosing a local or toll free number, view our competitive rates to determine which plan best fits the needs of your business.

Next, decide whether or not to add rollover minutes. Rollover minutes can save a business a lot of money if the firm has unpredictable call volume. Click “add to cart” and enter your information. Your new toll free number will be activated as soon as possible.

Once you buy a toll free number from Global Call Forwarding, there are a number of features that can be used with the service. You can set up call forwarding from an online control panel on our website. Log in to your account and click the call forwarding tab.

Bottom line

Call forwarding makes it possible for customers in a foreign country to call a business without incurring expensive per-minute costs. International call forwarding will automatically forward calls from a local or toll free phone number to a destination phone, which can be anywhere in the world. A call forwarding service is a great sales & marketing tool. The bottom line is that your business has greater sales potential with an international call forwarding service.